Posts Tagged ‘College Football’

Trey Lance throws the ball downfield early and often at North Dakota State. He has a strong arm, seems to often place the ball just where his guy can catch it, and finds the open man to catch his passes. Lance ran for over 1,000 yards at 6.5 yards per carry in 2019 (on his way to another 1-AA national title). Overall, Lance looks great. It’s concerning to me that North Dakota State vastly outperforms the other teams it plays that Lance doesn’t ever have to actually make any difficult throws, or go through his reads. Watching his game tape, his receivers are often WIDE OPEN. I have concerns that he may struggle against actual defenses that aren’t ten levels below the offense he’s running. North Dakota State has won eight of the last ten national championships, they are more dominant in their arena than Alabama, Clemson, LSU or any other D-I team is in D1 football. This team in 2016 beat #13 Iowa with Easton Stick at quarterback (Stick was a 5th round selection, nowhere near the player Lance is viewed to be). North Dakota State has a season opener against University of Oregon, which game I believe will be monumentally important in showing the football world how Lance performs when he is NOT racing a Ferrari against proverbial Smart Cars. Oregon recruits actual NFL talent and has a smart coaching staff. There is a lot to like about Lance’s on field performance, I can see why talent evaluators like Daniel Jeremiah are excited about him. Because the level of competition NDSU plays is so low, it’s hard for me to say what Lance would look like in the NFL, where the skill gap between his teams and the teams he faces are much closer than they are at North Dakota State. 

I only watched one game of Justin Fields so far, the Clemson/Ohio State game in the College Football playoffs of 2019. Fields’ stat sheet made him look like he had a rocky outing (30/46, 320 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 14 carries for 13 yards). After watching the game I felt Fields played very well, and the referees made some bad calls that impacted the outcome of the game. His first interception was a sideline pass that Isaiah Simmons made an ultra athletic diving play to pick off. Simmons has absurd speed, height and athleticism even for the NFL game, most of the time that pass gets thrown it goes out of bounds or to his receiver. Fields should shoulder some of the blame for this throw, he understands Simmons is an elite defender, he is partially to blame for this interception, really Isaiah Simmons just made a crazy play on the ball. Fields’ second interception was a timing throw to Chris Olave on a route where Olave fell down and Nolan Turner redeemed himself after being badly burnt on routes previously by giving Justin Fields his third and final interception of the season. On plays like this, Fields has to trust Olave will show up at the catch point or else the defense may have enough time to drive Fields into the turf. Fields did exactly what he should have done, his receiver didn’t show up to catch the ball, the defender was there and picked it off. This is not Justin Fields’ fault. Fields made lots of passes downfield which required accuracy, arm strength, and split-second decision making.

Trevor Lawrence is an elite college quarterback prospect, I feel Clemson ran more YAC (yards after catcb) plays that didn’t demonstrate his arm. Both of Lawrence’s passing touchdowns were brilliant catch and run efforts by running back Travis Etienne. Lawrence himself had a 67 yard run, showcasing his own athleticism. Whether it was excellent coverage, play calling, or Lawrence’s comfort level, Lawrence didn’t pass down field often and I felt Fields outshone him as a passer in this game. Lawrence looks like an excellent thrower of the football overall and I look forward to watching more of his play as the Covid season progresses.

I really enjoyed watching tape of Memphis’ Brady White. White repeatedly threw the ball downfield into relatively tight coverage. Many college offenses run safer “catch in space” plays while Memphis really lets him loose with his arm. White doesn’t play a lot of elite teams as the starter at Memphis. In his bowl game against Penn State, White threw a lot of accurate, downfield passes. He was credited with two interceptions. One was a last second toss while being sacked which he threw towards his offensive line. This was an irresponsible pass but more of a coach-able moment than a deeply instilled passing habit. The interception to Marquis Wilson was Brady White trying to thread a needle too narrow. The pass was right on target for his receiver, but White has to respect the coverage better as Wilson jumped in front of the pass and intercepted the ball. I still feel White played pretty well overall, I would certainly like to see him adjust better for better competition in the future.

Iowa State’s Brock Purdy has gotten attention from some early 2021 mock drafters as a potential early quarterback in the 2021 draft. I felt that while Purdy was not a bad decision maker, most of his successful passes were a product of his offense rather than high level passing. Purdy has lots of plays showing him throw a jump ball to 6’7″ tight end Charlie Kolar, or throwing a quick pass to one of his receivers and letting the receiver create yards after the catch. While I understand this is likely a great gameplan for actually winning games in college, it’s more challenging to see what Purdy looks like if he is asked to make challenging throws. Like Trey Lance, I don’t feel I can confidently say I know who Brock Purdy is as a quarterback because of circumstances out of his control. He seems to protect the football well and take the plays that the defense gives him, but he is not asked to throw downfield enough for me to say how well he can actually throw downfield.

I’ve already written how I feel about Louisville QB Micale Cunningham. I feel he is being underrated and maybe a top two quarterback in the draft class. He has a 22-5 TD/INT ratio, a QBR of 50+ in all but two contests in 2019 (Kentucky QBR 50.0, Clemson QBR 22.6), and is an effective runner. Cunningham may spark concerns he can’t handle a high volume passing offense at Louisville where he hands the ball off a lot and was credited with 122 rushes himself. He has demonstrated impressive quick twitch arm strength and great accuracy. In a rough loss to Clemson, Cunningham placed a 42 (air yards) yard bomb to Dez Fitzpatrick just outside the reach of first round draft pick corner A.J. Terrell. His lone interception went through the hands of wide receiver Tutu Atwell and into the hands of Clemson safety K’Von Wallace. I understand quarterbacks are tasked with protecting the football, this the type of pass Cunningham needed to be willing to risk throwing if Louisville wanted any chance at beating Clemson. The placement of the ball was close enough I blame Tutu Atwell more (although Tutu is a great receiver) for not bringing the pass down over Cunningham for throwing it.

There are still other quarterbacks I want to get into before the draft, guys like: Tanner Morgan, Sam Ehlinger, K.J. Costello, Davis Mills, D’Eriq King, Spencer Rattler, Alan Bowman, Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond, and several more.

Teams likely to draft a quarterback early in 2021 draft:

  • Chicago – With Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace likely gone, it’s tough to know what direction Chicago will want to go at quarterback.
  • Carolina – Carolina looks to either be in position to draft their choice of quarterbacks, or to trade up if they aren’t in the top five. I’d have to believe Justin Fields or some 2020 newcomer would be their top choice, based strictly on current QB hype/overall performance.
  • New England – Bill Belichick will pass on every good quarterback prospect until round seven when he drafts Large WhiteMan from Obscure University. Realistic connections could leave us with Mac Jones from Alabama considering Saban’s/Belichick’s connections, or a “lower-risk” QB like Kyle Trask at Florida.
  • New Orleans – I think New Orleans, who really liked Patrick Mahomes, will really like Trey Lance because of his deep ball and athleticism. Even if Trey Lance struggles a little to go from playing Illinois State to the Atlanta Falcons twice a year, the Saints will be confident they can work with his aggressive throwing he’s already shown.
  • Jacksonville – You can credit Shahid Khan, Jaguars owner, for identifying and pushing the Jaguars to draft Gardner Minshew. If Gardner does not work out long term, Jacksonville would likely to be thrilled with any of the big three (Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance). Trevor Lawrence might feel like more of a safe pick after flopping hard on small school risk Blake Bortles. Jamie Newman at Georgia would also be a name to monitor for Jax, as he may blow up in 2020.
  • Pittsburgh – Kevin Colbert may ride out Ben Roethlisberger for 2021 and start fresh in ’22. If he follows the trend of other general managers, I could see the Steelers looking at Jamie Newman and drawing comparisons because of his size and scrambling ability to Ben Roethlisberger.
  • Indianapolis – With Indianapolis, I’m reaching deep into the mists of the unknown. They could pursue a quarterback like Spencer Rattler or Alan Bowman if they develop at their current QB factories (Rattler projected to start at Oklahoma, Bowman at Texas Tech under Matt Wells). They would likely gamble on Trey Lance or be happy with Fields/Lawrence if they lose enough games.

Song of the post is “Why am I here” by Bonjr


Todd Gurley, UGA RB

Gurley’s the best running back in College Football. His season was cut short dude to injury in 2013. Gurley’s got ideal size for the position at 6’1″ and weighing in at just over 230 lbs. He’s gotten it done against top college defenses including a 150+ yard/2 touchdown performance against Clemson and a 130+ yard/2 TD (1 TD rushing, 1 TD receiving) performance against Jadeveon Clowney’s alumni South Carolina. Finally, Gurley finished off the 2013 regular season with a dramatic double overtime win over Georgia Tech with 150+ yards from scrimmage and 4 total touchdowns on the day. Gurley’s a proven grinder who can run down the middle or catch the ball out of the backfield.

Amari Cooper, Alabama WR

Cooper saw his production drop in 2013 with a few games lost to injury but finished off his sophomore season better than any receiver in the country with seven touches for 200+ yards from scrimmage performance against fierce rival Auburn and a nine-catch, 121-yard performance in a loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Cooper stands at a humble 6’1″, 202 lbs but has big-game potential.

Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M OT

Ogbuehi is the next bruising tackle in line at Texas A&M. Ogbuehi’s primed to be an early first round draft selection come 2015. At 6’5″ and 300 lbs, Ogbuehi could probably put on a little size to be a future franchise offensive tackle but has great height and excellent blocking production in his time protecting Heisman trophy QB Johnny Manziel. His time as a left tackle in 2014 will solidify his future as a franchise OT at the next level. Ogbuehi already’s slotted as a top-five overall selection in the 2015 draft by NFL talent guru Todd McShay. Ogbuehi’s got significant starting experience at guard and at right tackle suggesting he can be a versatile asset in any offense he’s drafted into.

Marcus Mariota, Oregon QB

Mariota would’ve been the first QB drafted in the 2014 draft if he’d come out this season. Houston may have even drafted him over Clowney. Mariota had absolute video game numbers this season and looks to only improve next year. He’s a great athlete as a runner but an even better passer and has great size/height to translate to the NFL. Mariota routinely torches opposing defenses and put up 50+ points in six games last season. Mariota produced 40 total touchdowns (31 passing, 9 rushing) with only four interceptions in 2013 with a gaudy 9.5 YPA on the season. Mariota will have another highlight reel season in 2014 and be a top five pick in the draft in 2015 if he chooses to come out.

Brett Hundley, UCLA QB

Hundley’s another Junior QB prospect from the Pac-12. UCLA doesn’t have the explosive passing offense used by Oregon, but Hundley still posted very strong passing  metrics with 35 total touchdowns (24 passing, 11 rushing) and 9 interceptions on the season. His completion percentage improved to 67.2 on the season with 8.32 YPA on the season. Hundley possesses acceptable measurables standing at 6’3″ and 222 lbs at playing weight. Hundley closed out 2013 with a decisive 35-14 win over a strong USC defense and an 42-12 thrashing of Logan Thomas’s Virginia Tech Hokies. Hundley was responsible for over 350 yards of offense and four touchdowns in the 2013 Sun Bowl against Virginia Tech.

Devin Funchess, Michigan TE

Funchess could stand to put on some weight at 228 with a 6’5″ frame, but he has the capacity to do so. Funchess caught seven touchdowns in 2013 and seemed to be at his best against Michigan’s toughest opponents. Funchess caught two touchdowns in a grueling quadruple (yes, quadruple) overtime loss to Penn State and one touchdown each in close losses to Nebraska (13-17) and to Ohio State(41-42) to close out the regular season. Funchess is a big-game threat who could become the centerpiece of the Michigan offense in 2014 with the departure of WR Jeremy Gallon in the draft.